for Chögyam Trungpa and Czeslaw Milosz
The quietest day in some time.
An old bawdy joke is seeking to be remembered by me.
Gray, misty with moisture.
No car alarms, only the hint of a siren—
Far off, growing closer now, Dopplering by.
No grand system of symbols
Within which to work, that is to say,
My crucifixions look nothing like what you might remember.
Yet, I cannot bear another silent moment.
Still, I cannot endure another mad poem.
Is it true, what Milosz implied when he said,
What is poetry which does not save
Nations or people?
But, Czeslaw, there is nothing to be done,
No one to be saved,
No one in need of salvation.
The throat will be slit whether I cry out
Or not, and the wrong man will be arrested,
A forgotten joke on his lips at execution time.
So I leave here and return
At eighteen hundred hours
To report again the goings-on of consciousness.
At one hundred and eight thousand hours.
Ha!—that’s an important number in some circles.
School is being let out on South Third.
The kids are crazed with spring.
Well, the whole of it is a sack of potatoes.
Some edible, some rotten.
I narrate, breathe, narrate, expire.
And you’re right, Chögyam, the goal of poetry very well may be
To exasperate everyone so that we die laughing.
Which reminds me of a joke.